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Keeping pace with dad

Father’s Day in the Sierra foothills means two things to locals; The Bluegrass Festival at the Nevada County Fairgrounds and the Nevada City Bicycle Classic in Nevada City. Both events are extremely popular and attract thousands of visitors, many of them celebrating Father’s Day weekend with their families and friends here in God’s country.

The Nevada City Bicycle Classic, the largest and oldest bike race on the West Coast, is in its 47th year and attracts some of the world’s top cyclists, including members of top U.S. cycling teams. Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has participated in the past and last year’s winner, Scott Moniger, is expected to participate again this year.

Riding at the head of the pack will be Dan and Lizzy Taliaferro, a father-daughter duo beginning their Father’s Day celebration by leading a parade lap through the streets of Nevada City just before the start of each race. Taliaferro will be at the wheel of a 2007 Pontiac Solstice convertible, owned and sponsored by Weaver Auto and Truck Center in Grass Valley, where Taliaferro is a sales consultant.



The Solstice is 12-year-old Lizzy’s favorite car, according to her father, and she was thrilled when her father was asked to drive it in Sunday’s race. “When she saw that it was the pace car and she realized that I was going to be the driver, Lizzy begged to ride in the car,” Taliaferro said. Her older brother, Tyler, will also get a chance to ride with his father, as will the “prize girl” and a General Motors representative.

But there’s a special surprise in store for Lizzy, something her father says will be “huge” for the Lyman Gilmore 8th-grader. “Jesse Myers (from Powder Coating Concepts USA) who does the stickering free of charge, put her name on the side of the car,” Taliaferro said. Lizzy’s name is on the passenger door; his is on the driver’s door. (Lizzy doesn’t know about the surprise, so don’t tell her!)




His daughter is for the ride of her life; Taliaferro says the course is tricky and the speeds down Broad Street are very fast. “Last year when I drove the (pace) car, we had a Pontiac G6, and I had to hit about 95mph so the bikes wouldn’t catch up to me in the pro races,” Taliaferro said.

The Pontiac Solstice should be up to the challenge. Its four-cylinder, 2.4-liter Ecotec engine produces 177 horsepower at 6600 rpm and goes from 0-60 in 7.2 seconds. The base model starts at $19,000 and includes 18-inch wheels and the PASS-Key III Plus anti-theft system as standard. Taliaferro says the pace car, valued at $25,900, has leather seats, OnStar and chrome wheels. The car is available for sale after the race, with or without the stickers. A turbo version of the Solstice is also available (the GXP), featuring a 2.0-liter engine that provides 260 horsepower.

A 1967 Rally Sport Chevrolet Camaro will also appear during the parade laps, according to Taliaferro. Owned by Lou and C.P. Boido, the classic car has been restored to its original condition except for the paint color, which is a new paint color for the new 2008 Camaro. Myers also painted this car, powder-coating it with seven layers of paint that leaves it with a shiny finish, sans clear coat.

Taliaferro says he is very honored to drive the pace car through historic Nevada City, where barbeques are going on at the homes along the racecourse and thousands of people line the streets, waving at the participants and cheering on the riders. “I love doing it,” he said. “I don’t usually like being the center of attention, but this is cool Ð Father’s Day with my kids and stuff, what more could you ask for?”

The Pontiac Solstice pace car will be on display at Weaver’s until the day of the race. Afterwards, the stickers will be removed and the car will be returned to inventory, Taliaferro said, unless it sells first. More information is available by calling 530-273-6141.

Upcoming event: If you’re planning on attending next weekend’s NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma (Toyota/Save Mart 350), you might consider taking advantage of the raceway’s “Ride The Bus” program. For $122, you get transportation to and from the pick-up point, premium reserved seating for Sunday’s race and a commemorative souvenir race program. The closest stop for foothill residents is at the FoodMax store, 3860 Florin Rd., in Sacramento. The bus leaves at 6:30am and returns at approximately 8pm. More information is available at http://www.infineonraceway.com or by calling 1-800-732-8687.


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